Sunday, November 30, 2008

Breaking the Silence.

A few years ago I did an article here about the Sirens of Astoria and how all sounds from Smith Point to Tongue Point can be heard anywhere on the North slope, be it sirens or barking sea lions.

I’ve been in cool places where one could hear the bells on the goats ringing from miles across a valley. I realized when I replied to a comment last week that the valley I live in has some amazing acoustic attributes as well.

On days that are still when there is a low cloud ceiling I can hear the ocean from my house. It is almost like white noise or static, but every once in a while one can hear an enormous wave crash upon the shore. I am several miles from the ocean as the crow flies, but its sound still makes the trip to my house.

I can hear the sounds of fog horns on the Columbia River while in be on foggy mornings. The river is about eight miles from my house, but it comes in loud and clear.

When I go out in the morning I can hear the toots of the log chokers and hauler in the woods miles away. One can hear a car approaching from miles away. Sometimes I go outside at night and I can hear dogs barking to one another from miles apart.

Country life isn’t as quiet as one might imagine. When things do get quiet and I mean really quiet, one tends to ask, “What’s going on that things are so quiet? Did the world end?”

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Am I Missing?

OK, I’ll admit it right up front I’m an old douche bag and I’m not taking advantage of any new technologies With that said, can anyone out there tell me the appeal of Face Book? I keep getting invitations from people that want me to go see their profile, but I don’t see the point.

OK, so I went there to look someone up and the maze one must go through to find someone is beyond ridiculous. You pick a range of names where the person you are looking for may reside, then you get to pick another range and then another and another. They you finally find the person, but you have to register to go any further.

Am I missing something? Is there more there than a photo and a list of people’s favorite songs? Please tell me what is going on there and if it is really worth the bother.

While you’re at it, tell me what the hell Twitter does. This is suddenly a new lexicon. Does Twitter or Face Book do anything that a blog doesn’t already do?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Plastic Goo

What do you call the clear plastic goo that is used as an adhesive sometimes when they stick paper to a plastic surface? It’s almost like rubber cement, but it does come off both surfaces with some friction yet you have to grab a bit of it and pull it off like some weird snot. The first time I saw this I thought to myself, "This is some nasty evil shit!" The stuff is really disgusting, but it is a great adhesive. Does anyone know what it is called and if it can be purchased by regular people?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Positive Happy Givings

Not being a believer in any higher powers I don’t get all wrapped up in the concept of a Thanksgiving. So rather than getting into things I’m thankful for, I’d rather get into things I feel positive or happy about.

I feel positive or am happy because:

Auntie is my friend and she comes up with more disgusting posts than I do.
Barbie(Who will now be known as "The Black Mamba") keeps is so together especially when her boss is an ass hole. His ass will get kicked.
Bayoy and Lach because they are a great couple and their love shows.
CB for phone calls that keep me up-to-the-minute informed.
Chantel has found love and a new life in San Francisco.
Dalia took the big step and moved to Montreal with a new job.
Darev greets the posts here with such enthusiasm.
Donna is able to ride her horse by herself and enjoys Iris DeMent.
Evil gets to move closer to Mel.
, I know you’re out there, I can hear you breathing.
g remains true to his Warrenton roots and mindset though I call him on it.
Ginger is living the Country Life I often write about and she appreciates it, and she has a back hoe.
Gearhead always has great mechanical advice.
Jaggy has found love in someone that dances.
JB who still reads even though I insult her Woo Woo side every now and then.
Jeff is pretty playful for a Republican that shaves his head.
Kris fits reading my stuff in her busy grand child schedule.
L.… who reads every day, but never comments, and she gave me strawberries…and she’s cute.
Lori Hahn for dedicating so much time and energy into her cause.
Loopy for having such a good attitude when crappy things happen to her and for her lack of fear for power tools.
Matt and KP will soon be parents and he’s till my fishing hero.
Mel for the term "Tuna-Skank."
for sending me cool emails every day.
Mo3 for enjoying her lot in life as a mother of three and dedication to the animal shelter.
Moose cracks me up every time he writes.
Nulaanne has found love.
is doing the education thing.
RichPix for keeping me honest.
Syd is so cool and is a true sister to me and she is who I go to when I need a laugh.
Trop is coming to visit me next summer.
Walt for bucking the system.
Weese for posting photos of her talented wife mudding the drywall, topless.
Zoe and BP are attempting to have a child.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lifers and Runners

A half life time ago I worked at a small town post office. The Postal Service has always been the brunt of jokes and for good reason. It is a strange organization where those at the top piss on those beneath them. After working there for only a short while one can see how the activity of “Going Postal” came about. This organization turns nice people into monsters.

There is a constant push to do more and increase productivity. Every piece of mail is counted and every person that handles it is timed. The times are compared with productivity of the day before, of the week before, of the month before and the year before. If something happens where the productivity decreases, heads roll.

There is even conflict on the street level between carriers with opposing philosophies. On this level there are Lifers and there are Runners. Lifers do everything by the book. They always walk on sidewalks. They read each envelope address several times before placing it in the mail box. They walk slowly. This is done to stretch their routes out as long as possible. Every route gets an annual inspection where each stop is timed. If the carrier gets through their delivery too quickly they will have additional stops added to their routes, thus increasing their work load.

Runners are substitutes or “floaters” that cover every route in the office or rotate through the same six specific routes each week to cover days off. Runners don’t care about time. They cut across lawns, they rubber band the mail for each delivery so they can run and dump. Sometimes they actually run.

As a runner it was always good covering a Lifer’s route. Routes back then were designed to have five and a half hours of delivery time a half hour lunch and two fifteen minute breaks. As a runner we had ways of condensing the time to about an hour. People that were used to getting their mail at 4PM got their mail by 10AM. The runners would finish the routes quickly and we would meet at someone’s house and drink beer and play horseshoes for the rest of the day. We did a lot of other things that I don’t want to commit to print.

This was all a quarter century ago and I don’t know if things have changed. This all comes to mind after a recent re-read of the Charles Bukowski book, “Post Office.” If you've read it, it is more fact than fiction.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Out There

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that if you want to live out in the country drive a half hour out of town and once you are there drive another half hour further.
I asked Ginger a question about if there are any outlets for animal feed where she lives. Ginger lives in Jewell, where there is no commerce at all. This community is probably 30 miles of windy roads from Astoria. There is a school there and a County Police sub-station. It easily fits into that two-plus half hour drive from town.

People that live that far out have to have excellent planning skills. You just don’t run to the corner store if you need a cup of sugar. Sometimes the nearest neighbor is farther than most town folks have to travel to go to a store. I know how it feels to be involved in a project and realize I need some hard ware or a part. For me it is usually a 40 minute round trip to visit the lumber yard. It’s a 30 minute round trip for me to go just to Utzingers.

Once while traveling through Maupin with little fuel in the tank, I wondered why people would want to live in a community with no commercial services available without traveling great distances to get them. It’s not like they are hermits. These are communities with a great number of people, but people clustered without services.

I know that when I do grocery shopping I buy much more that my friends that live in cities. I know people in Paris and New York that have tiny apartments and small refrigerators that buy their food fresh, daily. They don’t store a lot. When you live any distance from a grocery store the more apt you are to have a freezer and a big pantry.

I live out of town, but I’m not sure I would enjoy living so far out that leaving home becomes an excursion. If I were someone of means I would open a store in Jewell. Everyone out there has animals. Everyone out there needs food. It would be great to have a real general store out there other than the little one on Hwy 26.

So Ginger, I’ll offer to do some shopping for you the next time I have to come to Jewell. I’ll be running out of hay in mid-December. Are you or your neighbor still holding?

Monday, November 24, 2008

A New Day

I was out tending to the horses in the pre-dawn hour around 6:30 in the morning yesterday. I try to keep them on a twelve hour feeding schedule year round even if they are on pasture, 6:30 AM and 6:30 PM. They look forward to their sweet feed meals and fresh hay on a regular schedule. They aren’t hogs, meaning they don’t get pushy around food. They know there is a ritual where I clean their paddock and stall areas. I rub them down making sure they don’t have any injuries and I check and clean their hooves. I get social with them. Then I fill their water containers before I feed them.

What I’m saying is that I don’t rush in and feed them. They know it’s coming and they know all the steps of the pre-feeding ritual. And with this ritual they don’t rush in to eat. Sometimes they just stand outside listening and watching. They get tans-fixed. Some mornings I turn off the lights and hang out with them to look at what they are looking at and hear what they are listening to in the dawns early light.

This was the case yesterday when suddenly a pack of coyotes about a quarter mile away started howling. I could pick out six distinct voice, but there could have been more. I could hear the sounds of what I thought were young coyotes howling with the old howlers. Then neighbor dogs started in the howl fest. It went on for nearly a minute and as quickly as it started it stopped. Silence fell on our valley again.

Though I am fascinated with the sound it does send a chill up ones spine and I’m sure the horses feel the same innate natural spine chill as I. Within fifteen seconds of the end of the calling, the horses sauntered into their stalls for their breakfast. The next sound was the ring of the gate I closed behind me. Another day began.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Driving

I grew up in a family that would go for Sunday drives. These Sunday drives usually had some sort of a destination in a round-about way. We would end up at a hot dog stand in Patterson, New Jersey, or we would end up getting butter pecan ice cream cones in Nanuette, New York, but my favorite was when we would end up at Pie Man Sam’s in Tallman, New York.

Sam’s wasn’t like a normal pizza shop. It was a quasi skanky bar with a seating area with a stage. The walls were painted with murals of jazz players and flop house scenes in the fat and round style of Diego Rivera. They were dark scenes inside a Beatnik bar.

We would order a pizza and I was given coins to play this shuffle bowling game until it arrived. The pizza would arrive at our table cut in strips rather that the tri-angular slices that other pizza shops offered. This made the meal taste a lot different for some reason.

With bellies full of good hot East Coast pizza we would get back to our Oldsmobile for the drive home which always seemed to happen at dusk. Though we drove the back roads we would drive on over-passes that went over the New York Throughway. Sunday evenings were the time when all the people that went to the country for the weekend were returning to New York City for the beginning of the work week on the following morning.

Being the Throughway was a toll road that had periodic toll booths, traffic would back up for miles leaving the visual of slow moving long red ribbons of brake lights as far as the eye can see. There were long head light ribbons of traffic heading in the opposite direction from people that visited the City and were returning to the suburbs.

Whenever I see the ribbons of backed up car tail lights on the freeway, I suddenly remember the taste of Pie Man Sam’s pizza, and the warm feeling I always had on our Sunday drive home.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


OK, so Auntie is a bit of a bitch. She calls me up and starts insulting me for still having dial-up Internet service.

She said:

"Does your bill arrive on a stone tablet?"
"Does your provider have Pterodactyls on their stationary?"
"Is the clock on your desktop a sun dial?"
"Do you have DOS macro log-ins?"
"What's your IP the number 1?"
"Your IP shows up as a Roman Numeral."
"Haa, Haa, you can't even download porno!"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gators, I Tell You!

Some sounds can mimic or at least compare to other sounds. Familiar sounds are like how the sound of sizzling bacon in the pan can sound like rain falling on a metal roof, or the way coyotes howl can sounds like emergency sirens. Laughter can sound like crying.

There are certain sounds that have no comparison. One that comes to mind is the sound of hatchling alligators. Oh it’s a cute sound if you’ve never heard it before. It’s just cute enough that I’m sure people and other animals have been lured in to check out the sound and ended up as a meal of the gators mother. Here is a link to the sound Baby Gator.

We’ve had some warm evenings lately where I’ve been hearing frogs croaking in the pond or in the swamp near where my horses live. However, I have also been hearing the unmistakable sound of baby alligators. It is faint but it is clear. My mind starts wondering as to what if someone dumped a baby gator in the culvert and if the winters are mild enough not to kill a little gator. How long before the lives of me or my animals are in danger.

I’ve heard this sound for three evenings now. It stops when I stop what I’m doing to listen for it, but as soon as I resume my motions it starts squeaking again.

It was on the fourth night of this that I realized that what was squeaking like a gator was actually my new barn boots. The left boot squeaks like a baby alligator whenever it is twisted in a certain direction. Talk about fear of one’s own shadow. Yeah, I’m a bumb-ass.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Love Is...

California just went through (and is still going through) their measure 8 campaign. A couple years ago Oregon had Measure 36 where marriage was defined.

I’m always stunned to hear the argument spin in a strange direction where opponents will say something like, “If we allow two women or two men to marry one another, where will we draw the line? Will we allow men to marry sheep and women to marry dogs?” I’m not so stunned that the argument goes in that direction, but I am stunned that people aren’t more accepting of interspecies relationships.

We were brought up with interspecies relationships. Aside from Bugs Bunny cross-dressing and flirting with Elmer Fudd and planting wet and sloppy, full-on-the-lips kisses on him, there have been quite a few other examples in popular media that we’ve all come to accept. There was Miss Piggy and Kermit, a frog and a pig. There was Roger and Jessica Rabbit, a human and a rabbit. Beauty and the Beast, a human and some weird thing that wasn’t human. Brian, the dog on Family Guy dated several women and desires Lois. He was the object of sexual desire from Meg and Stewie. Peppy Le Pew, a skunk had a thing for cats. Krazy Kat was in love with Ignatz the mouse who would always hit Krazy in the head with a brick. Let’s not forget Howard the duck.

So appears that we’ve been indoctrinated with interspecies relationships since the beginning of story telling and it is fully acceptable as entertainment, yet society is not accepting of two people that love one another that want to commit their lives to one another, while being productive members of society and assets to the community. Society wants to prevent them marrying and enjoying the benefits that others who are in love can legally share. If society isn't ready to share legal marriage with all humans that love, maybe marriage should be banned for everyone.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Present Future

I find it interesting how intuitive people can be. I know that intuition often gets handed over to the Woo Woo zone where inhabitants go to psychic fares, read tea leafs, tarot cards, horary charts and have faith in reflexology.

Sometimes one can simply observe things and impress people with patterns you notice, like you can predict that there will be a plane crash and the plane will have the color red on its tail. It sounds impressive until you realize that 90% of commercial air-liners have some of the color red in tail.

There are certain patterns that one sees without realizing them, ore seeing one thing that will lead one to a conclusion. The other evening I returned home to see my caller ID light blinking without the answering machine blinking meaning someone called but did not leave a message. The ID showed that a call came from a neighbor and I immediately knew that one of my chickens had been killed by his dog.

Since the garden is finished, I’ve been letting the chickens out to free range. They return to their coop when it gets dark and I lock them in for the night. Sure enough, when I went out to check on them there were only nine hens. The next morning I found where the kill had taken place. It looks like I’ll need to power up the electric fence again. There are a couple neighboring dogs that need electric reminders of where they do not belong.

But back to predicting what will be, I realize that I am rarely ever surprised by a phone call. It seems that I know in advance not only who is calling, but why they are calling. I’d be willing to bet that this is the case with most people as well. Most of what we encounter every day is predictable whether we realize it or not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Caste

I was just thinking how different our lives would be in North America if we employed the Caste system as they have it in India. If you’re keeping score at home and seeing where you would fall, here is the structure:
At the top there is the Brahman, the Priest.
Next there is the Kshatriya, the rulers, warriors and landowners.
Beneath them are the Vaishya, who are the merchants, and by the way, not service providers because they are down one more peg.
Shudra are the artisans, agriculturalists and service providers.

The lowest class is the Harijan "outside" the caste system and were once known as "untouchables." The name for them later changed from untouchables to Harijans, which means gods children. Recently this caste would rather be referred to as Dalit, which means oppressed. Musicians are included in this lot, especially if you play a wind instrument you are considered unclean.

Now no going out and getting ordained in the Universal Church to raise your class. Except since Syd did this last year you are exempt and forward thinking. We bow to you.

Now even stranger, imagine if it were only permissible to associate with those within your own class.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Drinks Like a Horse

I know we all have some amazing pet stories. Every pet does something special. Of all the animals I’ve had one of my most memorable was a horse I once owned that loved to drink beer. She would pick up a bottle in her lips and tilt her head back and drink the entire contents in seconds.

Horses have a keen sense of smell. If you are hiding an apple or a carrot in your pocket they will know about it long before you get close to them. Also they are quicker than a Gypsy pickpocket in Paris to rob you of the said carrot or apple.
I always warned people never to approach her with an open beer. I remember we were around the camp fire out behind the house one evening. I just fed the horses which usually keeps them occupied for a while. When I sat down and opened a bottle of beer she ran out of her stall and looked at us over the fence until I let her finish off the bottle I was drinking.

I once let a neighbor ride her with a group once. They took some beers with them for their lunch break. My horse had to finish everyone’s beer. My neighbor brought her back saying, “Sorry we got your horse drunk, Guy.”

Fortunately that horse now belongs to a twelve year old girl that doesn’t get her drunk, but I’m sure it would only take the crack of a bottle cap coming off to make that horse fall from the wagon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Real Web

I think it is funny and amazing when I stumble upon one of the regular readers here commenting on another blog. Not so much that is unlikely something like that would ever happen, but more because there are so many blogs out there that there is little random chance the other blogs would have been found on their own. The readers were either curious or liked what a commenter said here and they back tracked them to their blogs.

Just the other day I saw that Darev and Loopy commented at Donna’s blog. I see “g” and Donna commenting on Darev’s blog and so-on. It’s like we are all being connected exactly like the Web .

Each of us write differently, but we do share similar interests or topics. We can easily spend a couple minutes with one another, but I doubt we like being stuck in a room with each other for a day.
I subscribe to 65 blogs through blog-lines and I think I need to weed out those that never post anymore and those I’ve totally lost interest in. Once my list is lighter, I may start taking on some of your readers.

I enjoy the diversity of the audience here and I think we have a good cross section of American society. From what I gather the readers here are from most racial groups except I don’t think there are any East Asian readers, or at least anyone high-lighting their East Asian heritage in their comments. There are several Canadians, and an occasional Australian. As for the country, there are readers from Oregon, Washington, Virginia, California, Idaho, North Carolina, Vermont, New York, Mississippi, Kansas and Missouri and Michigan. Am I missing anyone? Readers are also Right wing and Left wing in unequal proportions. Left leaners are about four to one. Some even get Christmas Cards from Lars Larson.

There a lot of parents with young children that visit here. There a three inter-racial families that I know of. There are a lot of Lesbian readers here, but no gay men that I know of. The age of the readers range from early 20s to early 70s. The formal education level of most readers is pretty high.

I’m delighted to have such diverse individuals visiting here daily, and I’m delighted that you visit one another. It shows we are all connection points of the web. It is so nice to share.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holy Crap! That's Extreme Pedal Steel

At Patrick McGee recommendation I checked out Robert Randolph on Youtube. This guy goes Hendrix on the pedal steel. I almost expected him to light the damn thing on fire.

And more

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Decoy

I was driving down I-5 recently when this truck towing a small boat passed me. The exposed portions of the boat were painted in camouflage patterns and the rest of the boat had all sorts of stuff attached to it to make it look like a duck blind.

Back in my teens my brother and I would go duck hunting at this large reedy pond. We didn’t have a duck blind boat so we would just lay low in the reeds in hopes that our decoys would bring in a flock. We never shot any ducks or even had a close opportunity to do so. It’s a good thing since we didn’t have a retriever to swim in the icy water for us. We would have shot a duck and then looked at each other as to what to do next as our duck floated away with the wind waves.

I clearly remember the day we gave up duck hunting. We had two inflated plastic decoy ducks on strings that we would throw into the water. We would reel in the string after we wasted our day duck hunting, then we would go home and eat store bought food instead of the greasy shot pellet filled carcass we’d hope to be eating.

Anyway, we were in position in the reeds with our decoys in place. I noticed Steve, a kid that I went to school with, hunting about a thousand feet away on the other side of the pond. He was walking on trails away from the pond and I assumed he was hunting for grouse or rabbits. About a half hour later the thunderous sound of both barrels of a 12 gage shot gun shooting off over our heads gave both my brother and I a startle. I watched as our inflated decoys sunk like stones. My brother and I both stood up and looked at Steve. He realized what he had done and said, “Oh shit!” We laughed quite a bit about for years.

Every time I saw Steve after that he hung his head in shame. I always tried to console him by telling him that he was a good shot. It would have been embarrassing had he missed the decoys entirely.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Big Problem

I was talking with a bunch of horse owners the other day, and the topic of injury on the trail came up. I’ve been on trail rides before where people have been injured by a fall or a kick or being stepped on. We’ve always found a way to pack someone out.

However, what we were talking about was when a horse gets injured by breaking a leg out in the back country. How do you get a horse out of the back country that had to be euthanized? If you are lucky you can employ a helicopter, but if you aren’t lucky you can follow BLM recommendations. It is said that the rules of the BLM is that one needs to either cut up and remove the horse in sections or the other method employs 30 sticks of dynamite to blow the horse up the way the whale was blown up On the Coast a few years back.

If you’ve never seen an exploding whale before, check out this video.
Exploding Whale

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Are Radiant!

When you grow up Catholic you get baptized as an infant and in the process you get God Parents. These are people that your parents assign the task of making sure you are raised in the faith if something happens that prevents your parents from doing so. I don’t know which other faiths have this sort of arrangement. Frankly infant baptism strikes me as strange on its own, but it was done and I’m still here.

Oddly I believe that my brother’s God parents were a Jewish couple. How that got by the Diocese is beyond me.

Anyway, this article isn’t so much about the weirdness of God Parenting, but more of a post about my God Mother. My G.M. has been a constant touch stone in my life. She always was and still is a true lady. She has sent me a birthday card every year of my life so far. Though I haven’t seen her in over 25 years; I write her and send her gifts.

At age 88 she recently had a bout with cancer. She went through chemo therapy leaving her with no hair and not feeling well from the treatments. Last month her son took her for her last treatment. Here’s where it gets weird.

While driving home from the treatment they passed a police car that quickly made a U-turn in the street and turned on the flashing lights and pulled them over. Within minutes there were several police cars surrounding their vehicle. Now remember the occupants of the car were an 88 year old woman and her son who is in his mid 60s who was driving normally.

After a few tense moments they came to find that their car set off alarms in the police car, probably some sort of terrorist detecting equipment. They surmised that her final chemo treatment gave off some sort of toxic radiation that could be detected at a distance.

Holy crap, eh? Holy crap on two fronts; one being that the police now have this sort of equipment, and the other being that you can have this sort of stuff in your body and still be living.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Problem Progression

It’s been my experience that things never get better on their own. At this point it is best to wait for all the shoes to drop before I bring in a pro.

OK, I haven’t complained about my truck lately, but it’s acting weird in an electrical way. The first hint was that the drivers side rear window no longer goes up or down. I figured that I never use that window, so I don’t care if it doesn’t open.

Next my radio/CD player seemed to get stuck where I couldn’t access any of the functions such as changing the stations or switching from AM to FM or starting a CD, and then suddenly these functions were restored. Now the functions come on and off. Another thing it does when the truck is turned off, every minute or so the clock lights up and the CD in the player gets ejected and then it goes back in and then turns off again.

Another thing I noticed is that when I manually lock the doors the alarm gets activated. It is only supposed to be activated by key or by wireless.
Finally, the drivers side window only operates if I bang the door panel and in order to roll the window up I have to roll it all the way down first.

So, now I wonder how long it will be before the window gets totally stuck in the open position, or how long it will be for a total systemic electrical failure.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Taken Back Again

Though nearly cell that my body possessed when I was ten years old has been replaced several times over there are still memories, reactions and comforts that carried on through the decades to where I am now. I was recently in a grocery store, in the cookie isle, which is pale and abysmal compared to the cookie isles of my youth. It seems that there are maybe four cookie conglomerates that hog all the shelves. There is little diversification yet plenty of boring unappetizing products.

Surrounded by cookie gloom I did find a touch stone that transported me back 45 years. It was a package of Barnum’s Animals crackers. The box looks pretty much the same, like a circus wagon with spoked wheels. It still has the flat string carrying handle. Blazed on the bottom of the front and rear panel is a reminder that the cookies on the inside are a good source of calcium, which to me is a stupid thing to list because they are never eaten for nutrition values, just comfort values. Just like when I wrote a while ago about a mayonnaise label boasting about it high content of Omega 3 fatty acids. Yeah, I’m going to double up on the mayo just to help my LDLs.

Upon opening the box there is a plastic liner that nearly looks and feels like the waxed paper liner that was used when I was a child. I guess wax paper is more expensive to use these days, though it does have more charm to me.

The vanilla cookies inside tasted exactly as I remembered them and reading the ingredients, the cookies don’t have a lot of chemical junk in them other than vitamins.

While I consumed the cookies I reflected on the illustration on the box. Each frame shows a parent and a baby animal. There is a tiger, a lion, a hippo, a giraffe, a zebra, a polar bear, a gorilla and an elephant. The illustrations are impeccable and delightful with each animal being affectionate towards one another.

This was the best cookie experience I’ve had in quite some time and I plan to relive it again, often.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Computer Love Songs

I thought I’ve written about this before, but I couldn’t find it in my archives. I find it amazing that there aren’t more references in popular music to computers or anything technological. Think about it, through the history of popular music songs have been written about the objects of human passion. Songs have been written about dancing, cars, trucks, love, trains, horses, but rarely is there ever a song about computers, e-mail or the internet.

The best and most comprehensive collection was Computer World by Kraftwerk. Though it is dated by references to the early days when people were fascinated by pocket calculators and when in order to operate a computer one had to always do a bit of programming; this collection is as close as it comes to the existence songs of love for technology.

Throughout the entire Techno movement in music, Kraftwerk seems to be the only shining example. How is this possible.

Free up some disk space and listen once again to Kraftwerk’s Computer World. You will wonder how the computers and the technology that we all have and love (to a point) is being totally overlooked by the music industry today.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pedal Steels

Most musical instruments are versatile. You can hear guitars, drums, violin and piano in Classical, Rock, Country and Jazz to name a few. Banjos are normally heard in Country and Folk, but thanks the Bela Fleck they can now be found doing much more. Dobros can be heard in Country, Folk and the Blues, but their cousin, the pedal steel can only be heard in country music and Hawaiian music.

The Steel Guitar aka Pedal Steel is some lonely instrument. It’s as though this instrument has the ability suck the emotions out of a listener. There is no such thing as a sad country song unless there is a pedal steel waling in the back ground nearly making it as depressing as Irish music, but not quite.

Unless you pay close attention to album credits you’ll probably never even recognize the names of the best pedal steel practitioners, which is sad because the complexity of the instrument should line them up for congratulations.

Now I’m not asking you to learn all their names as we’ve learned the names of guitar virtuosi, but I do ask that the next time a Country song finds your ear; pay special attention to the sound of the pedal steel. It is rather remarkable even if you hate Country music.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Quotes From Mae West

There are few people from the 20th Century that will be known for their quotes. I did a piece on Yogi Berra last year. I need to do something on WC Fields, Woody Allen and Mark Twain. Oscar Wilde qualifies being that he lived until November 1900.

I can’t recall if there was ever a woman in history that was a quote mill quite the way Mae West was. She was known for double entendres during a period of heavy censorship of film, radio and stage. Her statements were carefully crafted and people always understood exactly what she was saying. Many of these quotes came from the 30s and 40s, but they are still pretty hot, even today.

Mae West died in 1980 at the age of 87. Enjoy her quotes:

A dame that knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up.
A hard man is good to find.
A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has fire, women will like him.
A man in the house is worth two in the street.
A man's kiss is his signature.
A woman in love can't be reasonable - or she probably wouldn't be in love.
All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.
An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.
Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.
Cultivate your curves - they may be dangerous but they won't be avoided.
Don't keep a man guessing too long - he's sure to find the answer somewhere else.
Don't marry a man to reform him - that's what reform schools are for.
Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can't figure out what from.
Give a man a free hand and he'll run it all over you.
He who hesitates is a damned fool.
He's the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of.
His mother should have thrown him out and kept the stork.
I always say, keep a diary and someday it'll keep you.
I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.
I believe that it's better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked.
I didn't discover curves; I only uncovered them.
I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.
I like a man who's good, but not too good - for the good die young, and I hate a dead one.
I like restraint, if it doesn't go too far.
I never loved another person the way I loved myself.
I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
I only have 'yes' men around me. Who needs 'no' men?
I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.
I speak two languages, Body and English.
I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.
I'm a woman of very few words, but lots of action.
I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing.
I've been in more laps than a napkin.
It ain't no sin if you crack a few laws now and then, just so long as you don't break any.
It is better to be looked over than overlooked.
It takes two to get one in trouble.
It's hard to be funny when you have to be clean.
It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men.
Look your best - who said love is blind?
Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.
Love isn't an emotion or an instinct - it's an art.
Love thy neighbor - and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier.
Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution.
Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring.
Say what you want about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.
Sex is emotion in motion.
She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.
Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I'm tired.
The score never interested me, only the game.
Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.
To err is human, but it feels divine.
Virtue has its own reward, but no sale at the box office.
When choosing between two evils, I always like to pick the one I never tried before.
When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.
When women go wrong, men go right after them.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I’m a texture kind of a guy. I enjoy food that has texture. I enjoy touching things with interesting texture. I enjoy seeing things with texture and most of all I enjoy listening to music with texture.

Some of the most interesting textured music came from the Baroque period. When I listen to pieces by Bach I wonder about all the dimensions his mind was able to grasp and comprehend. It’s like listening to a Mandelbrot set with all the minimalist undertones that don’t stay in the sublime very long. It’s great music for those of us with short attention spans because as soon as we get one point of the tonality it moves on to the next.

Now if traditional recordings on traditional instruments leave you feeling a little old and cold you may want to listen to the texture enhanced versions such as the album from 1968, Switched on Bach by Walter Carlos (now Wendy Carlos). Wendy Carlos is/was a pioneer of electronic music. Her interpretations of Bach’s music sheds light on the textural possibilities that I’m sure would have amuse Bach himself as something he wanted to express but couldn’t with the limitations of the instruments in the Baroque era. Remember she also did the same for Beethoven on the soundtrack from A Clock Work Orange.

If you haven’t listened to Switched On Bach since the 60’s it is time to do so again. It will add a layer of wonder to your musical life again.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's Time

Though it is November I will mourn the last of my summer traditions that will end today. I will reclaim the tradition next summer when we feast on corn on the cob, water melon, black berries and garden fresh everything. Today, in a few moments I will consume my last BLT of 2008.

The tomatoes are still coming on in the greenhouse and I could continue having BLTs for another month or so, but my dance with bacon is ending. Like any guy, I could probably eat bacon every day; every meal, but my wife is the bacon police. She keeps track and she knows I purchased three packages of it this season. She told me, “That’s it for bacon this year.” If I buy it again I know I’ll have hell to pay.

It’s just better for me to hold back, plant tomatoes early next year and long for the day that color comes onto the fruit. I will rush to the market to get some thick sliced pepper or maple bacon and see how much bacon I can get away with next year.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Creeps

I’m sure we’ve all met someone, or been somewhere where someone has given us the creeps. Just seeing how they dress, or hearing the tone in their voice can send shivers up ones spine.

There are standards of creepiness such as clowns, dummies, people wearing mascot uniforms, certain insects and snakes. The creeps are hard to shake and seem at time to be innate in nature.

Some politicians give me the creeps. Reiki practitioners give me the creeps, big time. I’ve met cops that have given me the creeps. I’ve met many executives that give the creeps. Sometimes it can just be a person walking toward you on the sidewalk in town. Farmers rarely ever give me the creeps, but there is usually one person in the classes I teach or a presentation I give that creeps me out. It isn’t just a cosmetic thing where I’m pre-judging someone. I just get a creepy vibe and usually when there is an eventual interaction I find my creeps were justified.

Now ask your self if you’ve ever given anyone the creeps. I bet we all have. I’ve done things and said things that upon immediate reflection I have even creeped myself out. Sometimes I do it on a daily basis, though I plan on no confessions here.

I think the creeps should be added to the list of basic human emotioins right up there with love, hate and fear.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sick Day XXVI

I am sick of crappy security camera photos. How often do you see news footage with a criminal on a security camera that looks like a nightmare created by a black and white impressionist? What’s up, businesses? If you are apt to be robbed don’t you think you should place security cameras where they can actually capture the faces of the perps? Even cell phones have 3 mega pixel cameras these days, yet you mount cameras far away on the ceiling like you want to critique the customers’ wardrobes.

Look, if you want to capture their face you need to mount cameras where they can actually see faces; not try to see them beneath the brim of a hat. With proper lighting you should be able to count nose hairs in a photo.

When setting cameras up, have a professional photographer set them up for maximum exposure with realistic lighting.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

And The Colors Kept Coming

It was in the autumn of 1978 that I refer to as the Colorful Divorce Tour. I had just gotten divorced from my first wife and I decided to take a couple weeks off and follow the colors through New England and the North Country.

If you plan it right you can do a loop through New England and New York that takes a couple weeks and you will see autumn leaves in their peak co color the entire time.

The first couple nights were spent in Eastern Massachusetts. Then I spent a couple nights in Maine, Booth Bay Harbor and Bangor. From there I spent a night in New Hampshire and then Vermont. Then I crossed Champlain into Plattsburgh for a night and then continued onto Lake Placid. I spent another colorful night in Saranac Lake, and followed it up with one more night in Tupper Lake.

Before hitting the Catskill Mountains, I went Western Massachusetts, but found all the oak trees in the Green and Berkshire Mountains had turned an unattractive rusty color. The Catskills were in full color when I arrived there, where I spent a couple days fishing the Beaverkill River.

I got back to New Jersey on October 19th where I enjoyed color for nearly another two weeks.

It was a once in a life-time experience for me, living with peak autumn color for over a month. The only thing that made the gray overcast winter bearable that year was the fresh memory of all the colors that were still in my mind.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Earth Opera

I clearly remember when I was 12 years old and my brother coming home for his Christmas break from the college he was attending in Missouri. This was 1967 and he was living away from home with other kids from all over the country that decided to attend this college.

Sure, Missouri wasn’t cool like the big hippy city college towns like San Francisco, Boston or Chicago, but the 60s were the 60s. Where ever you went there were like minded kids seeking out the new realities that the psychedelic generation distributed freely to one another.

I remember my brother and I talking late one night after my parents had gone to bed. He went to his room and came back down stairs with some records and prepared me for what was the start of the Renaissance of the psychedelic music period. We listened to The Electric Prunes Mass in F-Minor which was a haunting experience having grown up in the Catholic Church during the pre-Vatican II, pre-folk mass era.

The next record he brought out was the first Earth Opera album, and this was the experience that took me down a long path of which I am still on today and I have no idea where it will end up other than death, of course.

I just revisited this rather unknown group and album. Earth Opera was started in 1967 by Peter Rowan and David Grisman. Rowan and Grisman were well know in Boston for their folk and bluegrass but this venture was unlike anything they had ever done previously or since.

For 1967 the production and the lyrics were spotless, interesting and clever. Rowan’s singing was shaky at best sounding like a cross between the Hindi sounding guy in Fairport Convention and Stewie from The Family Guy with that Boston/Rhode Island accent; really hard to describe.

This album was before it time, and I’m not even sure it’s time has yet arrived. In it, one can see glimpses of Rowan’s and Grisman’s musical future, though there is no bluegrass, per-se on this collection, just a whiff of bluegrass texture. Mandolins are mixed with vibraphone, harpsichords and Gothic sounding church organs.

If you are the least bit curious about this recording and have a source to sample it, (Yeah, you know what I’m talking about) make sure it is their first album. Some services bundle it as The Great American Eagle Tragedy part one. The Great American Eagle Tragedy (Part 2)was their second album and “disaster” doesn’t even begin to describe that stink pot which broke up the group in 1969.

Most important was the fluidity of their lyrics, such as :
And the carrion crows are arriving in droves as the sun sets to pick the bones clean…Or, If I could speak my self tonight I might be silent once again…

From songs such as: The Red Sox are Winning and Death By Fire
I can see I’m going to wear this one out, again.